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Cycling in Laos

Resort:Cycling in Laos
Operator: Exodus
Destination: Laos, Thailand
Price From: £2899.00

Overview


Explore rural Laos by bike

Laos, known as the land of a million smiles, boasts stunning mountainous
landscape and a laid back atmosphere, the result of a long isolation from its
neighbours. Our route takes us through some spectacular scenery, from narrow
roads shaded by jungle vines to shimmering rice paddies and mountains which
are home to a mix of ethnic groups. Out of the saddle, we walk through
villages and bamboo forest and visit Luang Prabang with striking colonial
buildings, tree-lined avenues and colourful temples. We finish our trip in
bustling Bangkok. The cycling is demanding at times, but our reward is to
have roads almost to ourselves in South East Asia’s friendliest and least
known country.

Highlights

* Exploring remote areas of Laos rarely visited by tourists
* Spectacular mountain scenery, limestone cliffs, rice paddies and
waterfalls
* Traditional hill tribe villages
* Slow cruise down the Mekong River

Itinerary

Day 1
Depart London

Depart London

Day 2
Arrive Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, ‘The Rose of the North’, is known for its temples, markets and
the many colourful hilltribes that live in the area. Chiang Mai is a former
religious and cultural centre. Twice coming under the control of the Burmese,
there is a strong Burmese influence reflected in the architecture of the
city. In the evening we can visit the night market where many of the
hilltribe’s handicrafts can be seen. There will also be a group briefing in
the evening with your tour leader to hear all about the trip ahead.
*De Charme Hotel or similar*

Day 3
Warm-up ride around Chiang Mai old town and visit Doi Suthep hilltop temple

After our bike fitting we start to explore Chiang Mai on two wheels. We will
visit the old town, the temple of Vieng Kum Kam and numerous cultural
highlights in the morning. We’ll stop for lunch before driving up to the
hilltop temple of Doi Suthep, the most revered Buddhist shrine in the Chiang
Mai region. On a clear day the temple affords an excellent view over Chiang
Mai and its striking temple landscape. There will be the opportunity to
listen to the monks chanting before returning to the city for a chance to try
northern Thai cuisine at dinner.
*De Charme Hotel or similar*

Day 4
Transfer to Chiang Rai; cycle along the Thai/Burma border into the heart of
the Golden Triangle

Leaving our hotel early we set off by bus to the Chiang Rai Province, the
northern most province in Thailand (approx. 2.5 hours transfer). We visit the
revered Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple) before cycling to Mae Sai. We
journey (cycle and 1 hour transfer) into the heart of the Golden Triangle,
the compact region where Thailand, Laos and Burma meet offering a heady mix
of cultures and landscapes.
*Serene at Chiang Rai Hotel or similar*

Day 5
Visit an Opium Museum; cycle towards border to Chiang Khong

The Opium Museum is our first stop today (after a 30 minute transfer) which
highlights the history of opium from its natural properties to its illegal
uses, and gives historical information on the Opium Wars that led to the fall
of the Manchu Dynasty. The Golden Triangle was previously one of the most
extensive producers of Opium until Afghanistan became the worlds largest
producer. We’ll next start cycling at Chiang Saen following a quiet route
towards Chiang Kong, which borders Laos. The cycling today is mostly flat
with a few rolling hills passing through tobacco and corn plantations.
*Ibis Styles Chiangkhong Riverfront or similar*

Day 6
Transfer into Laos; cycle to Luang Nam Tha

This morning we transfer across the border into Laos and onto the village of
Ban Nam Chi (approx. 2.5 hour transfer), where we will start today’s cycling.
Today we cycle through quiet jungle-lined roads marvelling at the mountainous
landscape along the way and stopping for lunch in Vieng Phuou Ka before
finish our cycle at our guesthouse in Luang Nam Tha. The Luang Nam Tha region
is a land of 39 ethnic tribal groups. The Nam Tha river weaves itself through
the countryside and has many ethnic tribal villages dotted along its length
on one side and dense jungle of the national protected area on the other.
There is a night market not too far from the hotel which provides the
opportunity to feast on the local speciality of bamboo and green papaya salad
or slow cooked Laotian pork belly.
*Thoulasith Guesthouse – Luang Nam Tha or similar*

Day 7
Rural cycle to the Udomxai province

We start the day with a ride from Luang Nam Tha to Udomxai. The town is
formed by many small villages and is home to a wide variety of ethnic groups;
Hmong, Tai Dam, Akha, Tai Lue and Yao. The cycling today will pass through
rice paddies and rolling valleys with a few hill climbs before transferring
to the town. After arriving in Udomxai, your leader will take the group for a
walk around the centre of town including a walk up to Xaymoungkhoun temple,
where you can see a Buddhist stupa aged more than 600 years and enjoy views
of the city from here.

*Charming Laos Udomxai or similar*

Day 8
Continue through Udomxai province to Pak Beng

We cycle directly from the hotel today journeying towards Pak Beng. The area
is an important intersection between China and Vietnam and has a unique
multicultural atmosphere. Located in the Nam Ko River basin and surrounded by
scenic mountains the area is famed for its Chinese produce. We will stop for
a late lunch before cycling a further 20km where we hop into the the minivan
and transfer (approx. 1 hour) to Pak Beng town for our overnight spot on the
side of the Mekong.

*BKC Villa or similar*

Day 9
Board slow boat on the Mekong to Luang Prabang visiting Buddha Caves en route

Today we journey to Luang Prabang region by boat, cruising along the Mekong
River which starts its journey high in the Tibetan Plateau, eventually
emptying itself into the sea in the south of Vietnam. Its journey takes it
through 7 different countries in Asia. Travelling slowly allows us to absorb
the pace of the riverside settlements and marvel at the mist covered
mountains towering above us. En route to Luang Prabang we will visit the
famous Pak Ou Cave, cut out of the limestone banks which line the river at
Pak Ou. These caves are filled with thousands of Buddha images brought by the
surrounding villagers as a sign of their devotion. After visiting the caves,
we then transfer (approx. 30 minutes) to our hotel in Luang Prabang for the
next 2 nights.
*My Lao Home Boutique Hotel or similar*

Day 10
Cycle to beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls. Chance to see monks receiving alms at
dawn

Approximately 25 km from Luang Prabang are the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls.
We ride from our hotel, leaving Luang Prabang passing through a rural
landscape of rice paddies and Lao Lum villages. Once atKuang Si Waterfalls,
we will have a picnic lunch and perhaps take a refreshing dip before cycling
back to Luang Prabang where the rest of theday is free for individual
sightseeing or shopping, or there may be a possibility for an orientation
bike ride of the town (any entrance fees are not included). This evening
there is a chance to visit the night market in town with beautiful
traditional Lao and hilltribe textiles on sale. For those up at dawn there is
chance to witness the daily parade of saffron-robed monks receiving alms.
*My Lao Home Boutique Hotel or similar*

Day 11
Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

Today we drive south from Luang Prabang to Phou Khoun throughmore
mountainous terrain (approx. 3 hours), passing throughnumerous Hmong
villages. Once in Phou Khoun we pull out thebikes and start riding. The
ride includes a superb winding descentwith magnificent views of limestone
karstswhich gives the impression of entering into ‘Lord of the
Rings’territory’. This is followed by shorter climbs and easy
ridingthrough rice paddies and villages as we approach Baan Yao. The rest
ofthe journey (approx. 2 hours) taken by bus to Vang Vieng, a popular town
with plenty of bars andrestaurants to enjoy.

*Amari Vang Vieng or similar*

Day 12
Vang Vieng to Vientiane

This morning we transfer 2.5 hours from Vang Vieng to Pakkayong village where
we start today’s ride. Passing throughlocal rubber plantations, small
villages and along the Nam Ngum river, we pause for lunch along the way until
we reach Ban Don Noun village where we hop on the bus for a 45 minute-1 hour
transfer toVientiene, the sleepy capital of Laos. In the evening the
perfectoption is to retire for a refreshing beverage and watch the
sunsetover the Mekong River.

*City Inn Hotel Vientiane or similar*

Day 13
Free morning to explore then cross over the Friendship Bridge into Thailand;
board overnight train to Bangkok

This morning is free to shop or explore Vientiane before we start cycling in
the early afternoon from our hotel across the Laos/Thailand border. After
completing border formalities and farewelling Laos, we continue to ride (on
the left in Thailand!) a short distance to Nong Khai railway station. Here we
say good-bye to our Lao guide and the group will be transferred to a local
hotel (with pool) for a couple hours to relax before returning to the train
station for our overnight train journey to Bangkok.
*Overnight Train*

Day 14
Bangkok city tour; free time

On arrival in Bangkok we transfer to our hotel. Later in the morning we take
a short walk to the Chao Praya River where we board a long tail boat for a
tour of the local canals. Bangkok was once known as the Venice of the East
because of its intricate canal network. We get a glimpse of daily life as we
pass locals selling their wares by the river. We will visit what to this day
remains the home of the Thai Royal family at the Royal Palace complex
followed by Wat Phra Kaew, home to the Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand’s most
venerated images. Another highlight is Wat Pho, the largest temple in
Bangkok, housing a 46m long, 15m high gold-plated reclining Buddha. We then
head back to our hotel by ferry. This rest of the day is free for further
exploration of this exciting city before we a final group dinner (optional).
*Rembrandt Bangkok Hotel or similar*

Day 15
Depart Bangkok, arrive in London in the evening

Depart Bangkok, arrive in London in the evening